May 172016

A 1977 Rockwell concept for how to expand the utility of the Shuttle system: move the payload from the Orbiter and put it in a shroud ahead of the External Tank. This would have allowed for much larger-diameter payloads to be carried. The ET would of course have had to go into orbit with the Orbiter itself. More info and diagrams of this are in US Launch Vehicle Projects issue 1.

uslp 01-07-1

 Posted by at 8:33 pm
  • Tango_Charlie

    Such a configuration would have resulted in either a second oxygen vent arm, or a change in all of the ETs to vent the GOx out the side. Something that wasn’t perceived in 1977.

    • publiusr

      Best to keep the engines under the ET and be done with it–simplify the orbiter interface.

  • Michel Van

    under assumption that Shuttle drags the ET + payload + shroud up is payload near zero
    Any chance that was complete different sequence ?
    that shuttle drop ET and then shroud are separated and
    it payload fly with own rocket power into orbit.

    • Scottlowther

      Nope, the ET was meant to go to orbit with the Shuttle. Total payload mass would have been reduced from normal, but it would have allowed wider, lower-density payloads such as the laser satellite with the big mirror depicted.

    • Tango_Charlie

      Do recall that the ET already goes most of the way to orbit, which means that the needed energy is slight (relative to what has already been delivered). I would not be surprised if you needed the 106% SSMEs to make this work well. Even then, such a payload would preclude any serious payload in the orbiter’s bay.